Long-time Joe T. Robinson trusted assistant and defensive coordinator Brian Maupin has taken over as head coach of his own program at Maumelle and couldn’t be happier.

The Hornets, whose previous head coach Kirk Horton ascended to athletic director in the offseason, will begin official practice Monday along with the rest of the state.

That’s ahead of a scrimmage with visiting Marion on August 19 and a season opener set for August 26 at Sylvan Hills.

“It’s been really good,” Maupin said. “It is a lot trying to put in a new offense, a new defense, a new culture,  but I talked to our OC (offense coordinator Carter Burcham) and we both feel like we are ahead of schedule after a couple of 7-on-7s,  team camps and summer workouts and that’s a good place to be.”

Maupin, a former college player at Harding, arrives from a Robinson program that has won two of the last three Class 4A titles and been in the championship game three times in four seasons.

He put his new players through four days of workouts weekly this summer with the plan to get the most out of them as the program competes in the 5A Central.

The nine-member Central conference also includes Robinson, White Hall, Little Rock Mills, Vilonia, Morrilton, Pine Bluff, Beebe and Watson Chapel.

“I gave them a three-day weekend every week, let them have Fridays off, ” Maupin said. “I told them if I am only going to ask for four days a week, just come in work hard for a couple of hours and go home.

“I think that really helped their attitude and the approach when we were together. It’s ‘let’s get our work in because there is a break coming and we are going to be all right.’”

It also allowed for some family time for all.

“For me personally as a father, I have a 6-, a 5- and 4-year-old man and my wife,” Maupin said.  It was nice, and they come with me every day to the field house, and we were able to do things they wanted on the weekend.”

Spring practice required a balance of teaching a new system while seeing who could actually play the game per Maupin.

“The toughest part was how much of the system to install, but also we had  to see who can play ball,” Maupin said, “so we had  to compete and break it down in its simplest forms, but also continue to expand their minds offensively and defensively.”

The summer slate was the first real view of what Maumelle had according to Maupin, whose program returns only two starters on both offense and defense.

 “One of the best things about it was that it was kind of our first opportunity to get everybody together, spring sports included, on the same page, working in the same direction,” Maupin said. “It was actually highly encouraging. Me and the staff were like ‘you know what? We’ve got pieces.’ The kids worked really hard. 

Maumelle sent two players on to the University of Arkansas in offensive lineman Andrew Chamblee and defensive lineman Nico Davillier while offensive lineman Caleb Stroud signed with Henderson State.

That was off a 4-7 team where five  losses came by a combined 17 points, including one by a field goal in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs to West champion Greenbrier.

Maupin and his staff have watched all the Hornets’ games from the last two seasons and he also coached against Maumelle twice in that time.

He got a first-hand look at impressive tight end/defensive linemen Amarie Rogers (6-4, 245) and returning quarterback Weston Pierce (6-3, 190), who amassed almost 2,000 yards total offense last season and accounted for five touchdowns against Robinson last season.

Rogers has offers from Florida Atlatic and Tennessee-Martin and interest from Power 5 schools.

“We obviously lost a lot from last year’s class, which was one of the most gifted collection of young men that I have every seen, Maupin said. “We will take a drop in talent, but the kids, as far where they are mentally and high character young men, I think that will be a real good equalizer to make up for it.

“They are trying to do things the right way and competing really hard every time we take the field.”

Maupin will see some familiar faces, including old boss Todd Eskola,  when Maumelle hosts Joe T. Robinson on Oct. 7.

“Week six will be fun,” Maupin said. “It will be interesting kind of knowing all the individual strengths and weaknesses. It will really be exciting to see how those kids have improved since I have been gone and at the same time, really just pouring my heart and soul into the guys that I have now and loving on the the best way I know how.”

The new Maumelle head coach has maintain contact with many of his former players.

“I have really maintained a good relationship with those guys,” Maupin said. “They still ask me questions about recruiting, working out and stuff and I try to help them out if I can. 

“I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, but if you played for me, you played for me and I don’t care if I coached in Timbuktu or whatever. You play for me, you are one of my guys.”

Maupin said that is his philosophy with any athlete in the state of Arkansas.

“I have always kind of taken the approach that I want to see every kid in this state succeed,” Maupin said. “I don’t think you have to hate anybody to be successful yourself. So I didn’t care if it was a kid from Sylvan Hills or Magnolia or wherever, if they reached out and needed some help, I was always happy to do so.  It’s no different now.”